Emanuel Cohen Center, 909 Elwood Avenue North, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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Emanuel Cohen Center
|Address:||909 Elwood Avenue N|
|Neighborhood/s:||Oak Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Hennepin County, Minnesota|
|Current Function:||Oak Park Neighborhood Center|
|Other Current Function:||Oak Park Neighborhood Center|
The Emanuel Cohen Center was founded in 1924, and was located eight blocks east of the Phyllis Wheatley Center. It was named after Emanuel Cohen, a lawyer who moved to Minneapolis with his wife in 1885. The Emanuel Cohen Center was created to replace the Talmud Torah Social Services when it was decided that it would focus entirely on the education of Jewish children in the area. The center provided the Jewish community with health and wellness services as well as programs for youths and seniors. The Emanuel Cohen Center was housed in an old mansion from 1924 until a new building was constructed and dedicated in 1940.
An Agency Report completed in 1938 recommended that a new facility be constructed because at the current time it was difficult to create a feeling of community since the work of the center was so scattered due to the current building's inadequate resources. This first building had only two stories and the space was divided into small rooms only able to accommodate small club groups. Thus at the time there was no room for dances or other large community affairs. It was necessary for much of the work to be done outside of the house. They used nearby schools and synagogues such as Lincoln Junior High, North High, Tifereth, Mikro Kodesh, B'nai Jacobs, and Talmud Torah. The report also addressed the need for more adult programs, which could only be accomplished if a new, larger building was constructed. The Emanuel Cohen Center served a social and cultural cross section of the Jewish population in Minneapolis. Some of those served were economically dependent on the state and the center's assistance, while others were securely rooted in the middle class. In 1938 at the time of the Agency Report, the Emanuel Cohen Center was in a period of transition. It was attempting to move from a strictly settlement oriented organization to a Jewish people's institute that would serve all ages and genders of the Jewish community through recreational and cultural programs. The goal of the Center was to further and enrich the community life of the Jewish population. No relief or clothing was given out by the center, and all family or personal matters were referred to Jewish Family Welfare.
In 1963, the center moved to St. Louis Park where it became the Jewish Community Center.
After the Emanuel Cohen Center moved to St. Louis Park, the building became the home to the Oak Park Neighborhood Center. The Oak Park Center provides a place where North Side residents can come together to take part in culturally enrichment programs. Residents also have access to resources and facilities such as a computer lab, industrial-sized kitchen, classrooms, and meeting spaces large enough to accommodate large groups. The goal of the Oak Park Center is to make Oak Park and the North Side a better and safer neighborhood.
Importance to the North Side Community
This section focuses on the Emanuel Cohen Community Center, which acted as an organization to support the Jewish Community in the North Side Neighborhood. It also encouraged the development of close community and cultural ties. When the Emanuel Cohen Center was closed due to the opening of the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park, the building became the home of Oak Park Neighborhood Center whose goal is to make Oak Park and the North Side a better and safer neighborhood by providing cultural enrichment programs and resources like computer labs and meeting spaces.
Memories and stories
"A Community Center for this district, [the North Side] therefore must be thought of in terms of an all-inclusive program, the 'under-privileged' being only a portion of the group who would participate in such a service"
-Jewish Community Council, 1938
"Essentially Emanuel Cohen is an agency working intensively with small groups in clubs, classes, and teams, following the usual pattern of settlements, to which it imparts a Jewish element, aimed at the cultivation of Jewish group consciousness."
-Jewish Community Council, 1938
City of Minneapolis. Agency Report, 1938 Community survey of Social and Health Work in Minneapolis: Emanuel Cohen Center, by David Liggett , Minneapolis, 1938.